The first London Gay Pride in 1972, organised by the Gay Liberation Front was a protest “against all forms of oppression and victimisation” (GLF Manifesto) of gay people. The GLF demanded:
- that all discrimination against gay people, male and female, by the law, by employers, and by society at large, should end.
- that all people who feel attracted to a member of their own sex be taught that such feeling are perfectly valid.
- that sex education in schools stop being exclusively heterosexual.
- that psychiatrists stop treating homosexuality as though it were a sickness, thereby giving gay people senseless guilt complexes.
- that gay people be as legally free to contact other gay people, though newspaper ads, on the streets and by any other means they may want as are heterosexuals, and that police harassment should cease right now.
- that employers should no longer be allowed to discrim inate against anyone on accou nt of their sexual preferences.
- that the age of consent for gay males be reduced to the same as for straight.
- that gay people be free to hold hands and kiss in public, as are heterosexuals.
About 1000 queers marched from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park, accompanied by 2000 police. The 1.5 million people expected to take part in London Pride on 2nd July 2022 shows how far LGBTQ Liberation has come, how much has been achieved in 5 decades, as does reading the above demands. Pride has become a fantastic rainbow day of celebration where people of all races, religions, genders and sexualities mingle together peacefully in bright clothes, with smiling faces, filling the city centre with so much positivity that you can feel the love in the air. Joyfulness abounds, and the few religious types who still turn out to protest our ‘abominable’ presence are more than counter-balanced by happy church crews waving rainbows. The police, the military, major businesses all are keen to show up and march proudly, though this development, like corporate sponsorship of Pride, makes some members of the LGBTQ community very uncomfortable.
Ever since it began, the movement of Gay Liberation has been divided between those who sought assimilation and acceptance by the wider society, and those who believed as queers we have a deeper purpose in life that we need to find, and mission to transform society on many levels.
The Gay Liberation movement is in many ways the love-child of the 1960s counter-culture, which shook up societies attitudes to both sexuality and spirituality. In 5 decades the powerful energy of Gay Liberation has brought huge advances in political, legal and social realms – but hatred and prejudice still exist, with the trans community taking the brunt of it in the UK at the moment (in which there are clear parallels to the treatment of gay men by the government and media in the 1980s). This situation will not fully resolve until we tackle and transform the spiritual world too:
The global LGBTQ community has yet to address the cause of, and uproot, the religious homophobia that continues to blight the lives of queer people around the world, and is still used to justify persecution in many countries. Homophobia was part of the effort of the Father God religions to separate themselves from the Goddess worshipping pagan past, in which the body and sexuality were highly revered as sacred, as were the gay and transgender priests who enacted her, often erotic and ecstatic, rituals.
As we gradually today decolonise notions of sexuality we are learning about the common association around the world of gender-fluid and same-sex loving people with ‘magic’, with the spirit world, with priestcraft, divination and healing. This was also observed by many European explorers from the 16th to 19th centuries, who saw parallels to the ancient pagans of Europe. The Europeans called the shamans of the Americas ‘berdache’, a term, originally Persian, for a gay bottom – this term was only dropped in the 1990s when the shamans themselves adopted the term ‘Two-Spirit’.
It is not simply queer sexualities and gender identities that the patriarchal, religio-political system has been suppressing for centuries – it is also our dimension-crossing queer spirit of freedom, love and joy:
Queers are barrier breakers, consciousness scouts, healers and shamans connecting worlds, becoming chalices, channels for spiritual energies, mediators, peace bringers and liberators. It is time to dismantle the edifices of homophobia that were built in the name of prejudice and fear and for queers to see who we really are.
On the sidelines of the queer universe groups such as the Radical Faeries have been exploring this territory during the last 5 decades, reclaiming our sacred queer connection and learning what it can mean for us today. One result of this has been the creation of Queer Spirit Festival in the UK, which celebrates the natural, healing, world-connecting spirit of queer people.
Throughout history queers have been associated with mystical practices, divination, magic and priestcraft. The Father religions suppressed our power because our magic is for everyone, it liberates in mind, body and soul. For five decades the queer community has grown in confidence, strength and power – we have grown as a transformational presence in the world. Now it’s time for us us to embrace the next step – spiritual liberation, to release the shackles binding the natural liberating spirit of queer people around the world.